A Chic Alpaca Brand Preserves Peru’s Weaving Heritage

Bloomberg Businessweek 
By: Catherine Elton
Photo: Courtesy of Ayni
 
Photo Caption: Weaving for Ayni in Cusco, Peru.

Original content from Bloomberg.

Three years ago, partners Laerke Skyum and Adriana Cachay, the founders and owners of Peruvian clothing company Ayni, were at a turning point. Their company could keep making alpaca wool sweaters and other clothing designed for fashion-conscious buyers, something it had done since 2009. But a side business consulting and producing private-label goods for other brands and running a Peruvian government certification program in traditional knitting methods was taking off.

“That was where we found our most lucrative business and where we took our know-how to a different level,” says Cachay. She and Skyum wondered whether it was time to put the label to rest. “We thought, Let’s do one last show, we’ll see how it goes, and otherwise it would be our swan song,” she says.

The fashion show, in New York in early 2015, provided an answer. The collection, more commercial than earlier designs in both style and price, was a hit. The founders’ publicity efforts also generated awareness of the brand and emphasized the sustainability of alpaca wool. Unlike cashmere goats, alpaca—a domesticated camelid native to Peru that looks like a llama—are selective grazers that don’t destroy the land they’re on, so their wool is considered more eco-friendly.

Barneys New York in Tokyo placed an order after the show, as did online retailer Revolve. Ayni went from producing 800 pieces in 2014 to almost 2,600 in 2015. The jump confirmed that the brand should live on.

Read the rest of this story at Bloomberg Businessweek.